Starlink dish
Image: Steve Jurvetson, Los Altos, USA – A Bright New Day for Broadband – Starlink, CC BY 2.0

There are many ways to connect to the Internet. A new option that’s rapidly gaining popularity, is getting Internet from space: we’ve written before about how Elon Musk’s Starlink is launching a network of thousands of small satellites into orbit, beaming Internet down to Earth. Now, they’ve reached a milestone as they’ve connected 100.000 paying customers.

A Starlink connection

So, what can you expect from a Starlink Internet connection? At a cost of $99 or €99 a month, you could get connection speeds ranging from 50 to 150 Mbit per second and upwards. Also, you’ll need to invest $/€ 499  in the starter kit, which includes a satellite dish and router.

Target audience

If right now you’re reading this using a much faster, much cheaper connection then good for you, but satellite Internet may not sound like an attractive proposition. However, consider the many remote places on Earth where no cables are laid down and cellphone signals won’t reach, and it starts to make sense!

While the bandwidth offered may not be all that impressive, satellite Internet promises to be fast in another way: low latency. Light travels faster through space than through the underseas optical fibre cables connecting the continents. Sending signals through space could reduce the time it takes data to travel around the world, say from New York to Amsterdam, by maybe 20 or 30 ms. That’s a lot if you’re a high volume stock trader or professional gamer.


Bringing Internet to more people sounds like a great idea, but some are accusing Starlink of polluting space. Astronomers complain that the huge amount of small satellites being launched will distort our view of the night sky and also increase the risk of spacecraft crashing into each other, with Starlink satellites already being blamed for half of close encounters.

How do you feel about Internet from space? Let us know in the comments below!

Image: Bas van Schaik, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia

Earlier this month, the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, or AMS-IX, hit a new record: per second, more than 9 Terabits of data passed through the Exchange. To put that into perspective: that’s about 256 movie DVDs, or 469 hours of HD video streaming, or 220 million pages of typed text. In a single second! What is the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, and why are they seeing this much data traffic?

For starters, since the early days of the Internet, traffic volumes have always been growing as new applications were invented and the Internet found an evermore important role to play in our lifes. The current Covid crisis is also definitely having an impact: as more and more people are video conferencing instead of going into the office, or trying to ward of boredom by streaming another Netflix series, data usage continues to grow. So it makes sense for Internet traffic to reach new records. But why exactly is AMS-IX seeing so much of it?

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Image: 2001, a Space Odyssey

Have you ever dreamt of exploring space? Perhaps, in our lifetime, we will be able to do some sightseeing on the Moon. If and when we get there, at least we’ll be able to stream our funny cat videos in HD. NASA and Nokia are working together to bring 4G connectivity to the lunar landscape.

The cellular network will be launched aboard a lunar lander and after touchdown on the Moon surface, should deploy and configure itself. As stated in Nokia’s press release: “The network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video. These communication applications are all vital to long-term human presence on the lunar surface.”

For now the cellular network will be based on proven 4G technology, but a future upgrade to 5G speeds is being planned for. Deploying hardware on the Moon will bring some unique challenges, like dealing with the impact of cosmic radiation and the need for very low power consumption. On the upside, there will be no risk of obstacles or other sources of interference messing up our phone’s reception.

I for one am excited by the thought of the Internet reaching out into space. The Moon will be just the first step, as Elon Musk’s Starlink is already preparing to expand the network to Mars.


Image: Capcom

Large parts of the Internet still run on IP version 4, which offers about 4 billion different IP addresses for use. For a long time we’ve known that eventually we would run out. For example, RIPE NCC, that manages IP addresses for Europe, the Middle East and part of Asia, no longer has any IP addresses left to hand out since November 2019. The long term solution will be to migrate to IP version 6, but large parts of the Internet are still not quite prepared for that. Meanwhile, if you wanted to start a new Internet Service Provider or build a large new network, you’re simply out of luck… There just are no more addresses available for you.

Perhaps not unsurprisingly, this has led to the rise of marketplaces where you can buy or lease ‘second-hand’ IP addresses. At some of these marketplaces, blocks of IP addresses are traded for around US$20–24 per IP address, or rented out for prices between 20 cents to US$1.20 per month.

Though this does seem to go somewhat against the original philosophy of the Internet, viewing IP addresses as a public resource, perhaps it makes sense. If a domainname like can sell for 345 million dollars (!), then surely a fancy IP-address like must be worth a handsome price!

Source: the Internet Protocol Journal

Image: Wi-Fi Alliance

If there’s one theme that keeps reappearing on this blog, it’s that our Internet keeps getting faster. While the first hardware supporting Wi-Fi 6 and the improved WPA3 security is slowly becoming available, the experts are already busy planning for a newer version, which we assume will be called Wi-Fi 7.

So, what can we look forward to? Of course, Wi-Fi 7 will bring another improvement in transmission speed, up to the point where Wi-Fi would become a serious alternative for the Ethernet cables still found in many homes and businesses.

More interestingly, the IEEE is looking at ways to use the radio signals to detect people moving around their rooms. This could have many useful applications: imagine your smart lights turning on and off automatically, when you walk around your home. Or think of an app that warns you if your grandmother hasn’t moved from the bedroom all day. Useful, but also a little scary when considering your privacy: the radio frequency signals would be sensitive enough to even detect your breathing!

Another area of interest is communication between vehicles, to help support self-driving cars. This is an up and coming market, which helps explain why the people behind 5G have also been looking at providing technology in this area.

Now, if they could just get around to standardizing the prononciation. Still not sure whether it’s Wai-Fai or Wee-Fee, but you could let me know in the comments below

Image: Thirdman on Pexels

This news may not surprise you. After all, we’ve known for well over 30 years that we don’t have quite enough addresses on the Internet to go with. However, the problem is becoming more urgent: RIPE NCC, the organisation that manages IP addresses for Europe and large parts of Asia, is down to their last few millions of available IPv4 addresses and is expecting to run out altogether by the end of 2019.

RIPE NCC IPv4 address space chart

So what happens after all addresses are gone? If you’re an Internet Service Provider in need of more address space, you’ll be put on the waiting list and if you’re lucky, you may be handed a smaller range of leftover addresses.

For the real solution to the problem, we need to look further back…

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Image: The Meg – Warner Bros.

Have you seen the Meg? The movie seems like fun, but now it turns out there’s a real danger of sharks eating our Internet! As we’ve learned before, the Internet crosses the ocean through a network of fiber optic cables, running along the ocean floor. If a shark bites into these cables, they could cause damage and disrupt the flow of our data. Google is not taking any risks, and is planning to wrap its trans-Pacific fiber cables in Kevlar to protect against hungry sharks.

While I couldn’t resist sharing this news, in my opinion there are other concerns when thinking about the safety of these underwater cables – in fact, we have bigger fish to fry! Imagine an army sending their submarines or divers to intentionally cut these cables, causing major disruption in their opponent’s communications. Even more likely, the Russian submarines that have been spotted near these cables would not be interested in destroying them at all. Instead, they might try to tap into these cables to be able to eavesdrop on all passing communication, while remaining undetected.


Image: Vitaly Volkov, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

July 22 is a big day in Amsterdam: the long awaited new North/South metro line will finally open to the public. Over 120.000 passengers are expected to travel underneath the historic city center on this line daily,  and naturally, they will want to be online during their journey!  How does a mobile network get a signal to a cellphone travelling through narrow underground tunnels?

It does so by using leaky cables: long lengths of coaxial cables running through the tunnels. Normally, coaxial cables are insulated quite well to avoid any disruption of the signal they’re carrying. A leaky cable, however, has small holes in the outer conductor at regular intervals along its length, allowing part of the signal to radiate out of the cable.  The leaky cable carries data, but is also used as a sort of really stretched out antenna, offering a 2G/3G/4G connection to mobile devices. The technology has been used previously in other cities’ underground railways and also in mines.

I’m hoping to catch a ride on the new line soon, and when I do, I’ll be paying extra attention to my cellphone’s reception.